Bar-hopping linked to numerous recent COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg: top doctor

Bar-hopping linked to numerous recent COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg: top doctor

An increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg involve people in their 20s who were out at bars, pubs and restaurants, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says.

Some of those people went out while they had symptoms of the illness, including one person who had 36 close contacts, Roussin said Thursday.

“No one’s risk is truly their own,” he said, and each person brings the chance of contracting the illness home to family members, including to vulnerable people like grandparents.

“We know we should be decreasing our time in enclosed spaces, crowded places, and reducing prolonged contact. We certainly shouldn’t be out and about when we’re symptomatic.”

There have also been sports teams playing close attention to physical distancing in locker rooms, but gathering in close quarters shortly after that, Roussin said.

“This defeats the purpose of that physical distancing,” he said.

Thirty of Manitoba’s 37 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday are in the Winnipeg health region.

Another four of the new cases are in the Interlake-Eastern health region, while two are in the Southern Health region and one is in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

The increase in new cases — many of which come with large numbers of close contacts — has meant busy days for contact tracers in Manitoba, who now often face verbal abuse while they do their jobs, Roussin said.

“They are getting many instances of contacts being very angry, rude and abusive when they’re advised that they’re contacts and advised to self-isolate,” he said.

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“It’s certainly inconvenient to be named as a contact and to have to self-isolate, but we do it for a reason: to limit the spread of this virus.”

The province has now confirmed the 19th death linked to COVID-19 in Manitoba was a woman in her 90s who lived at the Parkview Place personal care home in Winnipeg.

The company that runs that care home confirmed the death on Tuesday, though it did not say whether it was a man or a woman or how old the person was.

Seven residents and one worker at that care home had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Manitoba’s COVID-19 test positivity rate — a five-day, rolling average of the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — climbed again to 2.5 per cent on Thursday, Roussin said.

There are now 449 active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba; 365 of them — more than 81 per cent — are in the Winnipeg health region, according to provincial data.

The outbreak at John Pritchard School in Winnipeg has now been linked to 26 cases of COVID-19, Roussin said, but not all of those people were necessarily at the school.

Roussin’s news conference on Thursday comes after sustained increases in cases of the illness in Winnipeg, and pleas from health officials for people in the capital city to stick to the fundamentals: good hand hygiene, staying home when sick, covering coughs, physical distancing and wearing a mask when physical distancing isn’t possible.

The increase in COVID-19 cases has also brought a surge in demand for testing in the city, which has resulted in long lineups and often hours-long wait times at Winnipeg test sites.

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There are now 11 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Manitoba, including six in intensive care, Roussin said.

To date, there have been 1,711 cases of the illness identified in the province; 1,243 of those people have recovered.

The Carberry Plains Health Centre has now reopened and moved to caution yellow from critical red on the province’s colour-coded pandemic response system, Roussin said.

On Friday, 1,616 more COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba, for a total of 171,661 completed in the province.

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